MELBA — Seven-year-old Beckham may only have three to six months to live, but that’s not stopping him from doing what he loves.

Beckham is sitting on the worn, dark brown leather couch. He’s opened his bright green journal to a page with a T-Rex drawn on it.

Beckham writes video episodes about dinosaurs. His second Facebook dinosaur episode video was about the T-Rex, his favorite dinosaur.

“He has 66 teeth and he weighs 200 tons,” Beckham said. “The T-Rex is the king of all dinos.”

It’s Friday, Dec. 1. Beckham has just had lunch after his radiation treatment.

Beckham is trying to decide which dinosaur to feature in his third episode. He’s in his room, surrounded by over 30 dinosaurs, painted on the walls and standing on the shelves with other toys. Beckham’s assorted Pokémon are standing on a shelf above his bed.

Beckham is sitting in his small black office chair holding a Poké Ball.

“Your goal,” his words slur, “is try to get the highest number. I always want to get to the black three.”

Beckham tries rolling the Poké Ball to his mother, Alli Hoagland.

She pushes the button, it opens, and they gasp: three black stars!

Beckham knows he’s sick, but he doesn’t know how little time he might have left.

“He’s (got) the type of personality that if he found out, he would be devastated,” Alli Hoagland said. “He would give up and he wouldn’t fight.”

BECKHAM HAS CANCER

Beckham’s left eye suddenly started wandering around Halloween. His mother said they were told to go to an eye doctor.

On Thanksgiving, Beckham’s speech began to slur. He spoke very slowly, Alli Hoagland said and his normal energy plummeted.

Alli took him to the emergency room. An MRI was done on Nov. 25.

The doctor came into the room with a tissue box.

The cancer is in Beckham’s brain stem, which affects his speech, his balance, his eating, his sight, his heart rate and his breathing, according to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s website. About 10 to 20 percent of all childhood brain tumors are like what Beckham has.

Ninety percent of the children diagnosed with the type of cancer Beckham has die within three to six months after diagnosis, according to the website. The cancer, Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, is inoperable because of the risks with performing surgery in that area of the body.

The family was given two choices: either allow tests and studies to be done on Beckham’s tumor, and he would likely die shortly after, or try radiation treatment.

The only treatment option for Beckham, Alli Hoagland said, is to shrink the tumor with radiation and pray it doesn’t grow back. It usually always comes back, she said, and when it does, it’s extremely aggressive the second time and can’t be treated with radiation.

Beckham is undergoing radiation treatments every weekday morning at St. Luke’s Mountain State Tumor Institute, commonly called MSTI. His stepfather, Tanner Hoagland, said there will be six weeks, or 30 sessions, of treatment.

Tanner Hoagland said he’s reached out to old professors in genetics to see if they’ve heard of anything that can help Beckham or if they know of anyone who has made progress in this area.

“I’m glad we caught it, because a lot of people don’t and then they don’t have that time,” Alli Hoagland said. “This radiation will give us more time — not even close to enough, but it will give us closure.”

Beckham has a 1 in 10 chance of survival. Despite that, the Hoagland family has hope.

“It’s just such a tiny, tiny chance,” his mother said. “The doctor doesn’t sound optimistic on a recovery from this tumor, but we believe in the power of prayer and miracles.”

MAKING EVERY SECOND COUNT

Alli Hoagland said she spends every second with Beckham. Every morning going to or coming from radiation treatment they play Pokémon GO. They also play with toys, color, watch movies and play animal games.

“I feel like I can’t do anything other than just spend every second with him, loving him, cherishing every moment,” Alli Hoagland said. “I’ve been sleeping with him every night. I’ve just been soaking it all in … every breath, every touch, every laugh and smile.”

Alli Hoagland said just being with Beckham in the moment is all she wants and what Beckham would want.

“People are like, ‘You should do all these extravagant things, go all over the world,’” she said. “And I’m like, ‘It’s not going to mean as much to him as just the little things.’ He loves playing. He loves having someone listen to him. If I go and do all those things, he’s just going to get tired and forget about it. We’re just trying to keep it kind of normal but make him feel so loved and just have so much fun.”

Beckham’s father, Logan Bice, said what he wants people to know about Beckham is how kind and loving Beckham is, that he’s smart and remembers everything he reads, and that he’s easy to open up to and interact with.

“To find out he (may) only have three to six months left ... he’s so young, he’s just learning how to read and that’s going to be it. It’s really not fair.”

BEING BECKHAM BRAVE

A family friend started an online fundraiser, bonfire.com/brave-beckham, to raise money for medical costs. Various red shirts with a T-Rex printed on them are available. Alli Hoagland said this is the only fundraising effort the family has accepted.

“(Beckham is) so excited to see people (wear) that shirt,” Alli Hoagland said. “He designed it (and) it’s his favorite color.”

Though Beckham is not attending school while he undergoes treatment, Alli and Tanner Hoagland brought him to Melba Elementary School Nov. 30 to visit his class.

Ms. Ashli Nelson, his teacher, and his classmates were all wearing red “Be Beckham Brave” shirts. Tanner Hoagland said Beckham perks up when he gets to see his friends and classmates.

“He’s that kid that lights up every room when he comes in,” Tanner Hoagland said.

“Everyone ran up and gave him hugs,” Alli Hoagland said. “He just felt like the coolest kid in the world, and that’s what we want him to feel like all the time.”

Alli Hoagland also said at least one of his friends has come over every day for a play date.

“If he has a friend over, he’s himself,” she said. “The moment he’s alone is when he starts to kind of not be Beckham anymore.”

Friends and family have been visiting frequently since Beckham’s diagnosis. The Melba community has asked how it can help the Hoagland family. Alli Hoagland said she and Tanner appreciate the offers, but they don’t know what help they need other than prayer and spreading awareness about the cancer.

Alli Hoagland said it is hard knowing how many people are in pain right now worrying for Beckham.

“He’s that miracle you never knew you wanted,” Beckham’s grandmother, Shannon Mitchell, said. “He has brought unconditional love and kindness. He has the capacity to love more than I’ve ever seen in anyone.”

“He’s my son and my best friend,” Bice added. “I love him with all my heart.”

FAITH IN GOD

Tanner Hoagland said the family is LDS (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). He said the family has been holding onto hope and faith and is thankful for the prayers and fasting offered for Beckham. Tanner Hoagland said the family has to have faith, because that’s all they can do.

Alli Hoagland said the family has been talking about Jesus and heaven a lot with Beckham lately. Recently, they sang a song about Jesus, which moved Alli to tears.

She described what happened: “I just miss him so much,” Beckham said. “I’m just so sad that I don’t get to live with him.” Alli Hoagland said it was so sweet a moment, and she told him that everyone in the family is going to be there soon.

“If I didn’t have a relationship with (God), I would definitely not even be talking right now,” Alli Hoagland said. “I’d probably be so angry.”

Alli Hoagland added that usually people either pull away from God or get closer with these sort of things. She said she has gotten closer, and she feels the strength of the spirit. She said she doesn’t know how people can handle these kind of things without having God in their life.

“If he does go,” Alli Hoagland said, “Heavenly Father had bigger plans for him than we will understand. While (Beckham) is here with us we will fight til the end and we will keep praying, because I know that God, faith can move mountains. There’s enough people out there (praying) right now that I believe he could be healed.”

Alx Stevens is the reporter for Kuna Melba News. Contact her at 208-922-3008 or editor@kunamelba.com.

Comments

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.